Cycloidal Domains in the Magnetization Reversal Process of Ni80Fe20/Nd16Co84/Gd12Co88 Trilayers
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The mag netization reversal of each individual layer in magnetic trilayers (permalloy/NdCo/GdCo) is investigated in detail with x-ray microscopy and micromagnetic calculations. Two sequential inversion mechanisms are identified. First, magnetic vortex-antivortex pairs move along the field direction while inverting the magnetization of magnetic stripes until they are pinned by defects. The vortex-antivortex displacements are reversible within a field interval which allows their controlled motion. Second, as the reversed magnetic field increases, cycloidal domains appear in the permalloy layer as a consequence of the dissociation of vortex-antivortex pairs due to pinning. The field range where magnetic vortices and antivortices are effectively guided by the stripe pattern is of the order of tens of mT for the NiFelayer, as estimated from the stability of cycloid domains in the sample.